The Billings Outpost

MSU seeks applicants for 2015 scholarships

MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – Montana high school seniors who plan to attend Montana State University in the fall of 2015 are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for scholarships through the MSU Premier Scholarship Program. The priority deadline for scholarship applications is Feb. 1, 2015.

“The Premier Scholarship Program is one way that Montana State University helps provide Montana students access to higher education,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “These talented high school students are the future of our state, and MSU is committed to helping them succeed.”

MSU and private donors provide funding for the scholarship program.

Premier Scholarships will be awarded to incoming first-year students who are Montana residents and show academic promise based on ACT and/or SAT scores or grade point average. Financial need, leadership experience, activities and honors may also be considered.

The scholarships range from a one-time $1,000 scholarship to a $3,000 scholarship that can be renewed annually for four years. The scholarships can only be applied toward tuition. Students who are awarded a renewable scholarship must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and continue to be enrolled full-time.

To be eligible for a Premier Scholarship, applicants must:

- Apply for admission to MSU. Applications are available online at To receive a paper application, contact MSU Admissions at 888-MSU-CATS.

- Make sure MSU receives their current grade point average, either via the self-report form (included with the application for admission) or from a transcript.

- Have their official ACT and/or SAT scores sent directly to MSU from the testing company. The school code for sending ACT scores is 2420. The school code for sending SAT scores is 4488.

- Print, complete and mail the Montana Premier Scholarship application to: MSU Admissions, P.O. Box 172190, Bozeman, MT 59717-2190. The application is available for printing at: Alternatively, applicants may apply for the Montana Premier Scholarship online at:

For more information, contact MSU Admissions toll free at 888-MSU-CATS.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:20

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Winery hires Rocky intern

By Rocky Mountain College

Idaho’s largest winemaker, Ste. Chapelle winery in Caldwell, hired its first ever intern, RMC student Tarah Anderson (’15), to learn the business of selling fine wine.

This summer, Ste. Chapelle coordinated with RMC to take “our very first intern ever,” said retail manager Mary Sloyer. The business helped Anderson to complete her academic internship practicing business management. Sloyer said, “She was awesome, a joy to work with, a very quick study.”

In her two months of work, Anderson is helping the winery managers with marketing and business processes. Wineries often promote a “case club” or “wine club” to broaden their devotees, and Anderson has expanded the membership. Working with orders and inventory, she follows laws and procedures for shipping wine to different states. She has helped to create and distribute brochures, and provided IT help to her employer.

“Her computer savvy helped,” Sloyer said. “We loved that she always found things to do.”

Anderson also helped to plan Ste. Chapelle’s summer concert series, in addition to her daily duties of serving wine members and tasters while operating and stocking the wine tasting room.

“A challenge for me is having to learn about all the different aspects of each wine to be able to educate customers about them,” she said. Anderson was new to the business of selling wine, and the internship lets use her RMC business skills in a real-world environment.

“It was a great thrill to serve customers,” she said. “It is satisfying when a group of tasters come in and you get to be the one to help them find the perfect wine for a special occasion like their wedding.”  

She enjoyed “the pleasure of getting to learn how a corporation runs on a daily basis,” she said.

“This experience has allowed me to grow in terms of customer service (interacting with other people including difficult customers), management, and understanding all the little aspects that go into running a big corporation.”

Anderson, a Rocky Mountain College dual major in economics/business management and physical education/athletic training, grew up in Caldwell, Idaho.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:18

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Academy applicants sought

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is reminding Montana students interested in serving in the Armed Forces to apply for military academy nominations. 

A nomination from Tester is the first step in applying to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy or the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Tester chooses nominees based on their academic achievement, leadership, community service and participation in extracurricular activities.

Montanans interested in applying for a military academy nomination are encouraged to do so online at Tester’s website.

To qualify, students must be:

• Between 17 and 23 years of age (25 for the Merchant Marine Academy)

• A U.S. citizen and a permanent resident of Montana

• Unmarried, not pregnant, and free of legal obligation to support children or other dependents.

You can reach Sen. Tester’s nomination coordinator by calling (406) 449-5401.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:17

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Foster parents can fill urgent needs for kids

By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

If anybody knows about the importance of foster parents, it is Lisa LaMere.

LaMere, who now licenses foster parents through Youth Dynamics, spent the first 14 years of her life with her parents and seven siblings. Since her parents were frequently using drugs and alcohol, the care of her siblings fell to her. When her parents were sent to jail in 1995, LaMere was separated from her family and spent two years in the foster system.

One of the homes she lived in for a while belonged to a woman named Ruth.

“She was so sweet and kind and made me feel not like an outcast, but just like any other kid in her house,” LaMere said. “I’m still in contact with her, and she calls me her daughter even though she’s African-American and I’m obviously not her kid.”

With more than 3,000 Montana children entering foster care each year, there is a growing need for people like Ruth to step up and become therapeutic foster parents.

“The need is still there,” said LaMere.“We have way less foster parents than we’ve ever had, but the number of foster children is growing.”

She continued, “I had four referrals this week for kids that needed homes and I had to say no to all of them. This means that the kids will probably be moved to somewhere outside the Billings area away from their families or moved to a higher level of care like a group home. It’s really disheartening to know that there are four kids out there that we could have helped if we only had the homes for them.”

Whereas most foster parents are registered through the state, Youth Dynamics specifically registers therapeutic foster parents who are assigned to help children with mental health and behavioral issues.

“Our kids that are placed in these homes are more intense,” LaMere said. “They have all received a mental health diagnosis and need more support services such as medication management and therapy.”

Foster care myths

According to LaMere, “Most people have thought about being a foster parent for two years before actually taking that step.”

Many prospective foster parents have legitimate concerns – such as whether they’ll be able to provide adequately for a child.

However, many concerns fall into the category of “foster care myths.”

“We’ve all seen the horror movies where it’s the foster kid who burns down the house and does all these awful things,” she said. “You watch ‘Law and Order’ and usually it’s a foster kid who commits this horrendous crime. There are kids out there like that, but the vast majority of them are kids that just need a loving home to bring them in.”

And, unlike what many people think, there are very few restrictions on who can be a foster parent.

“You don’t have to have kids already to be a foster parent,” she said. “You don’t even have to be married. I’ve licensed some great couples that aren’t married and I’ve also licensed some awesome single moms and dads.”

In the end, LaMere says, the most important things that prospective foster parents need are “the skills, ability and heart” to take care of these hurting children.

“I’m looking for all sorts of different people. I know that there are awesome and amazing people out there that can provide care to these kids.”

‘Step Up’

Though foster care has a notoriously low success fate, there are still many success stories. One of these is LaMere’s.

After her mother attempted and failed to regain custody of LaMere when she was 16, her social worker gave her special permission to live on her own. She then finished high school and went to Montana State University Billings to receive her bachelor’s degree in human services. She is now working toward her master’s degree in mental health counseling and vocational rehabilitation.

However, for every success story like LaMere’s, there are multiple stories of children who are still struggling.

“I check the jail website and see the names of foster kids that I worked with years ago,” LaMere said. “I’ve had past foster kids who now have their own kids in the system. But my hope is that by the end of my career, I can say I’ve made a positive difference in the lives of at least three kids. It’s better than doing nothing at all.”

Though foster care’s low success rate can be daunting, La Mere feels that the best way to combat this is for “people to step up.”

One way they can do this is by becoming a foster parent. After filling out paperwork and undergoing background checks, potential foster parents will go through 33 hours of training in order to help them know how to best meet the needs of the children in their care.

Even after the training is over, the team at Youth Dynamics is happy to work with foster parents to make sure that they are receiving the support they need.

“We don’t want people to fail,” La Mere said. “We don’t want the foster parents to fail, and we don’t want the kids to fail. We’re not setting them up for failure.”

Even those who aren’t ready to be foster parents can step up to make Billings a more welcoming community – not just for foster families, but for everyone.

“If there’s a kid on your baseball team who doesn’t have cleats, be his mentor and buy him the shoes,” La Mere suggested. “Instead of being the person who complains about the baby screaming at Walmart, be the person who offers to help hold the baby while the mom loads her bags into the car. Being a kind and conscientious person in the community is one of the best things you can do.”

If you are interested in learning more about being a therapeutic foster parent, contact Lisa LaMere at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 245-6539.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 September 2014 13:07

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Summit fires up students

Rocky Mountain College

A three-day student leadership summit energized 59 Rocky Mountain College student-leaders a week before classes, high in a mountain valley at the United Methodist-affiliated Camp on the Boulder River.

The summit honored myriad ways that people learn. Several sessions taught the student-leaders to help younger students recognize psychology behind personal connections, exemplary followership as a path to leadership, autonomy support, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, and student-leader roles as they relate to new student orientation.

The students shared small group and whole group team-building activities including a half-day of low ropes courses led by students who participated in three additional days of challenge activities and ropes course training before they attended the summit. Katie Carpenter (’07), associate dean of student life, and Tim Lohrenz (’01), director of adventure recreation, led the second year of the summit, while Tim’s wife, Cara Lohrenz (’06), director of student activities, coordinated logistics.

“We hosted more students this year,” said Tim Lohrenz. “We also revised our programming to give students more time to bond as a group and process the material Katie and I presented.”

Group participants discovered each others’ student initiatives in hours of mutual questioning.

“We had a very intentional outcome this year of letting them unwind from summer and get to know each other,” said Carpenter. Participants also trained to help lead new student orientation at RMC the following week. 

Attendees included leaders of campus activities such as residence hall assistants, members of ASRMC student government, and an editor of the Summit, the RMC student newspaper. Summit editor Emma King (’17) reported, “Amazing, crazy; I’m exhausted.”

Resident assistant Nick Pedersen (’17) of Billings called the summit “awesome, incredible, perfect.”

 The lessons he took home will help him support his freshmen, he said.


Last Updated on Thursday, 11 September 2014 13:06

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Rocky volleyball wins AVCA academic award

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Rocky Mountain College volleyball team was one of 33 NAIA teams in the United States to receive the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award this year.

This is the seventh straight year that the team garnished this award. Only 5 percent of the NAIA teams qualified.

The award, which was initiated in the 1992-1993 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that display excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade point average on a 4.00 scale.

“I am very proud of our team again this year. We pride ourselves on the success of our program in part that we have scholar-athletes and [that we] take the classroom and the court very seriously,” said Rocky Coach Laurie Kelly.

“Too often athletic participation is associated with academic underachievement, and this stereotype is simply false when it comes to volleyball,” said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. “Couple the smarts represented by these teams with the competitive experience and team-focused training gained on the court, and we have a potent formula for future leadership. What a significant contribution that is by their coaches and schools.”

Members of the academic team include Jayde Hair, Ahlea Billis, Jennifer Donaldson, Tori Bertsch, Elli Hellerud, Mariah Stiffarm, Yang Yang, Sky Gabel, Kylie Nielsen, Anna Dewald, Brooke Myers, BrieAnna Geck and Kacie Stone.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:30

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Girl Scouts looking for volunteers

Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming is in need of volunteers and troop leaders in Billings. Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming covers over 245,000 square miles, 79 counties and in our council area there are more than 128,000 girls that need a positive role model in their lives, a news release said.

Girl Scouts is the No. 1 leadership organization for girls and women in the world, the release said, but girls need volunteers and troop leaders to guide them.

Every girl has the ability to lead, but only one girl in five believes she can. A lack of role models, unhealthy images of beauty, peer pressure to not stand out, and a mean-girl culture are just some of the obstacles that stand between girls and their full potential, the release said.

Volunteering opportunities with Girl Scouts are tailored to fit your schedule, your skills, and your interests, the release said. Your time as a volunteer will help girls pursue whatever interests, causes, and leadership roles that are most important to them.

Sign up at

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:29

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Montana colleges rank as overall best in U.S.

HELENA – According to a “Smart Rating” developed by FindTheBest, Montana has the best overall colleges in the United States. 

“From the Montana University System, to our tribal colleges, to our private colleges, we’ve always known our schools provide Montanans with a world-class education,” said Gov. Steve Bullock. “I’m proud that our state is being recognized for the incredible work our colleges and universities do to prepare the leaders of the future.”

Founded in 2009, FindTheBest has a goal of “collecting all the world’s data” and synthesizing that into a usable format that provides users with “everything [they] need to research with confidence.” 

According to their website, (, they help “23 million monthly visitors research thousands of topics with confidence.”

The ratings consider admission selectivity, academic excellence, the opinions of experts and affordability.

Former chairman of the Board of Regents and current Lt. Gov. Angela McLean said, “During my time as chair of the Board of Regents, I witnessed first-hand the remarkable work being done in our colleges and universities. Education is a top priority of our administration, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that Montana remains the best state in the nation to obtain an education.”

One of the pillars of Gov. Bullock’s Main Street Montana Project is: Train and Educate Tomorrow’s Workforce Today. Key to that effort is aligning Montana’s educational system with the needs of a changing economy, creating partnerships between our colleges and universities, and the private sector, and providing a lifetime continuum of quality education – from pre-school through adulthood. 

Montana’s colleges and universities are already engaged in that effort, and that engagement is expected to grow in the coming years.

Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian said, “Our dedicated professors and support staff in Montana have top-notch credentials and world-class talent. But even more, they just roll up their sleeves and work hard to help students succeed.”

West Virginia and Maine tied Montana for the top spot, also receiving a score of 78.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:28

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Fuissaint does everything with all his heart

Rocky Mountain College

PETERSON FUSSAINTLanguage was the least of his adaptations when senior business management major Peterson Fussaint arrived at Rocky Mountain College from Haiti in 2010, but his perspective has helped him thrive.

“In my culture, if an old man or an old lady’s carrying something, you run to help. Here, they separate themselves. There is a lot of process. My experience here makes me respect other people’s culture and perspective. Montana is accepting, but also has stereotypes. People ask ‘Are you an athlete?’” he said. And he is not.

“I have a completely different, opposite culture, not just to America, but to other countries too. But the expectation of Montana is that everybody is OK with the way I act.”

That was a blessing for him. He already spoke French, Creole and English. “I knew a lot of vocabulary, but the way you guys flow – I didn’t have that. ‘You betcha’? That was new.

“In my culture, people, when they meet a woman, [they] kiss on the cheek. I ignored culture here, kept being me, but some people here found that awkward. I was adapting the hard way.

“People say I have a good smile. When I smile, it’s a true smile. A lot of people smile as a barrier. The U.S. is the greatest country in history, but inside of it, there is not enough trusting. Even at RMC, some are more approachable than others, even though they’re all good people.”

His closest advisers at Rocky Mountain College have since died. The honest humor and outreach of the late Kristi Foster, RMC chaplain when Fussaint arrived as a freshman, knit him into the community.

“She told me to dream in English,” he remembers.

He also lost Michael West, a former director of international programs who assisted his transition from Haiti. “He was a great friend, a mentor, director and a great adviser,” Fussaint said.

But Fussaint has been to many funerals. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake in which as many as hundreds of thousands of people perished, he worked as a translator for volunteer medical teams.

“In Haiti, our funerals are more emotional; we are more attached. For church, we are really serious about it,” he said. His faith work led him to accept the opportunity that summer to come to RMC, sponsored by two Montana medical professionals he worked with.

Fussaint changed his major twice because “I did not see myself in them. I thought I was going to be in computer science, I switched to aviation management, and I was not familiar with a lot of stuff associated with this major. I took a deep breath and thought about something that would fit me and my personality. Since business management is pretty broad, I can situate myself anywhere.” He likes his decision.

Now a senior, Fussaint took his realism into his 2014 internship in management training at Enterprise Car Rental. He said, “You are always responsible. They want to hire a decision-maker, someone who can make a good decision. I have figured out that I’m at a really great college – because RMC taught me [how to manage] small group communication, group projects and work under pressure.

“We have to compromise in order to complete a project, with employees from Montana, Las Vegas, Tennessee, Ohio and Haiti. There’s some accent going on, too. That makes me feel strong in this internship. Some think inside the box, but Rocky taught me to think outside the box – to flow – to get it done. I’m not afraid to fail now, to come back stronger.

“I listen to everybody. Not everybody listens to me. I compromise with everybody. Not everybody compromises with me. But I never take it personally; I go with the flow.”

Haiti, Fussaint reminds, has “a great history of independence. But we have a tough history with America,” which tried to occupy Haiti several times, most recently in 1919.

The legends in America, he points out, were individuals who put their genius first. “People underestimate somebody from a third world country,” he said. “We all need to put our thoughtfulness first,” he said.

For the future, his dreams are still there, but “you can’t count ‘one, three,’” Fussaint said. “The first step is to get my diploma.”

“Education comes before democracy,” he said. “There’s no good democracy without good leadership. You cannot let yourself be defined by others,” he said. If he can contribute, he’ll return to Haiti, he said, but not as a politician. “I hear everybody when they talk, but I listen to good people. I want that inside.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 17:15

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Osprey research aids birds, undergraduates

Rocky Mountain College

Three separate prongs of research by Rocky Mountain College undergraduates are assisting osprey populations this year along the Yellowstone River. One effort has already resulted in a published paper with an RMC junior as lead author.

Ospreys are summer native “fish eagles” who eat the rich fish of the Yellowstone River while they raise chicks. About 45 nesting pairs live along the middle Yellowstone River. They winter as far as South America, and most return yearly, but face hazards from people’s activities. The studies use ospreys as biological indicators of ecological integrity of the Yellowstone River.

Renee Seacor (’16) of Ossining, N.Y., had her paper on baling twine entanglements of osprey nests published in the February Canadian Naturalist. Polypropylene twine used to wrap Montana hay bales persists through years of weather and rot. It is soft and shows up in abundance to cushion eggs in osprey nests. In three seasons, RMC Assistant Professor Kayhan Ostovar’s team found five of 178 banded fledglings entangled in nest baling twine.

Three were cut free and survived, one died, and one was euthanized. Seacor wrote, “Vigilance by citizen scientist nest monitors and assistance from power companies are the only short-term solutions to reducing mortality … from entanglement.”

Efforts to educate the public to reduce twine on the landscape will help ranchers and wool producers as well as nesting ospreys, Ostovar said, since twine hazards also negatively affect the humans’ livelihoods.

Matt DeWit (’15) of Billings is studying population distributions and nesting successes of ospreys in the Yellowstone valley. Working with citizen volunteers from Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society, DeWit has tracked active and abandoned nesting sites of osprey along the Yellowstone from Gardiner to Miles City. He has mapped more than 80 nests this season.

Conducting intensive observations of randomly selected nests, DeWit can determine the food intake of individual chicks by measuring the size and type of fish that parents carry. He will then work to look for correlations in the parents’ nesting success with the chicks’ diet, distance from the fish source, water clarity, and other variables. DeWit is finding the middle Yellowstone to be a sweet spot for osprey success, possibly related to a greater diversity of fish species, abundance of nesting structures, and water clarity.

Linnea Warlick (’15) of Warren, N.J., hopes to attend veterinary school and aspires to do wildlife veterinary work professionally. Warlick works with the osprey team and Professor Marco Restani of St. Cloud State University, who helps Yellowstone River Research Center (YRRC) to take tiny blood samples from fledglings to check heavy metal loads in their blood. Since ospreys are at the top of the aquatic food chain (as are humans), they can bioaccumulate toxins and heavy metals.

After a field season of making blood slides and learning how to band and handle wild birds of prey, Warlick will look for correlations between heavy metals such as mercury or lead and the white blood cell counts on her slides. Her research is blazing potential new techniques for evaluating wildlife health.

All three student projects, managed by Ostovar, have received professional and fiscal support from the Yellowstone River Research Center and the SEED (Science Education Enhancement and Development) program at RMC, a USGS grant from the Montana Water Center, Royal Bank of Canada, Cinnabar Foundation, Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society, and many local power companies who help researchers access nests.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:10

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